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Archive for December, 2009

It's Official

December 29th, 2009 at 03:42 pm

Dh got his surgery date - it's in about 3 weeks.


Yesterday we freaked out a bit. I don't know if it is more real, or if we are just so panicked because it ended up much sooner than expected. We were expecting a February date.

I am relieved we haven't had to get our affairs in order. Long said and done. It's not like he was in an accident and we have minutes to decide. We have had weeks. But it's nice to know that our life insurance and wills and all that are well squared away. I don't know if dh is as insurable any more, so another sigh of relief there. He's well covered for the rest of his life - with the extremely low cost life insurance we bought in our 20s.

Lots of daycare arrangements are to be made in the next 2 weeks!!!

Anyway, to the doctors, this is no big deal. It would be like a 1-night hospital stay if he could get up and walk out. Since they are severing his balance nerve on one side, they want him to regain some balance before he leaves. 3 days in the hospital if all goes well. There has been no talk of risk of death or brain damage, because the odds of anything like that are SO slim.

& yet, they are operating on his BRAIN. It's just hard to accept that it will be so easy peasy.

I assume we will be a bit of a wreck the next few weeks. I will feel so relieved once this surgery is over with.


His pre-op appointment is early, the day after his birthday. So we will go to San Jose the night before and have a BIG birthday celebration, I am sure.

He assumed I would work hard to catch up at work the next few weekends. I asked him if he was crazy - I am spending some good quality time with him while he is well! Though he may make some plans to get together with friends.

So yeah, we decided to take the kids down with us and we will have a leisurely day before his surgery. Will get a hotel a couple of nights, since we have to be at the hospital at dawn, for surgery. I figure I wanted to be close to the hospital the first night - and it will be nice to have a place to rest if the surgery runs super long.

If all goes well he will have surgery Thursday, and be home by Sunday.


We decided to get a nice family portrait before his surgery. Compliments of my dad. Something I'd be willing to pay for, but I know we can get something real nice, for free. Big Grin There is a possibility his face will be paralyzed, so he wants to get some pictures of his "perfect face" before surgery.

2009 Taxes

December 29th, 2009 at 12:53 am

Well, I am saving the long weekend, next weekend, for financial chores and such. I will probably even do my taxes for the most part (will have most the info by then). I always file by Jan. 31 for refund; April 15 for taxes due. Of course, our tax situation is extremely simplistic. All of our investments are tax-deferred, so nothing to wait on there. I have no tax-deferred deductions from my paycheck, though if I did, I would still be able to figure out what my W-2 would say, I suppose. So, I usually start on the 1st, and go from there.

Anyway, out of curiosity, I plugged in my #s today. I knew how my W-2 would read - with only one more salary check to wait for this year. Interest income, mortgage, property taxes, medical expenses - easy peasy to estimate.

I came up with a rough estimate of owing $200. Will see! (That is $700 back from Feds and $900 due to state). So will probably file Federal in January and the state return in April. (Or to make it simple - may file when I get the Federal refund).

I usually go for pretty breakeven. The Fed refund is due to the "Making Work Pay" credit. My employer never adjusted my paycheck. Which reminds me, it will probably be adjusted in January.

The state taxes owed are due to the fact that our state taxes went up so much this year. Our total tax was almost DOUBLE last year. Of course, double of "not much" isn't so bad.

In the end, I will double my state withholding in 2010 (from $60 to $120 per month). My Fed withholding should go down just as much, for the new credit. So I Can breathe a sigh of relief that my taxes will not go up next year. It's all breakeven in the end. (Barring future tax law changes). Yes, I ignored 2009 California tax law changes - I just paid 100% last year's taxes to avoid penalty. I figured with the state issuing IOUs and such, why risk paying more than I have to? I didn't feel real motivated to pay in more. Big Grin

The nitty gritty:

Compensation was about $90k (was a darn good year!)

Federal Taxable income about $45k.

Tax would be about $7k, but after child tax credits and the new working credit, total taxes were about $4k. Still, far more than we have paid most of this decade.

California taxable income was about $65k. Tax was about $1700.

How the heck do I manage so many tax breaks?

10% of my income is paid in the form of profit sharing. Basically, 10% goes into tax-deferred retirement funds. The reason my employer structures it this way is more tax breaks for him - more tax breaks for us. It's kind of like him paying me 10% more, and me deciding to put 10% into a 401k. Except I don't get to control it. He decides how much, and how to invest it. Otherwise, it is pretty similar to a 401k. Will roll it into an IRA eventually, when my employment ends.

We actually whittled down our mortgage interest by about $2k this year, with our refi. But still $14k easy in property taxes and mortgage interest. On top of that, the other biggie is our medical expenses - well over 7.5% of income - the portion over 7.5% is fully deductible. (Insurance premiums, medical bills, dental bills). About $4k deductible there. Plus state taxes and our minor charitable giving puts us to about $20k itemized.

Then, we get about $14k exemptions, for there being 4 of us.

& that is how I get my taxable income so low. It's not exactly planned. One-income with kids, is good for the taxes. I actually avoid things like HSAs and deductible IRAs, because our tax bracket is so low (no real benefit). We fund ROTHs instead.

Anyway, I was a little worried. Our mortgage interest went down, my income was up a few thousand over last year, and I knew our state tax breaks were disappearing. I am relieved that it looks like we made it rather break-even. $200 owing - I Can handle that! I think the new working credit saved our bacon this year.


Next year we will actually have a LOT of medical bills. (Easily $6k more in deductions). I will probably just go with the year-end refund though. IT's just a one year thing - I don't need to get used to a "bigger paycheck." For such a one off thing, I think we will just go with the status quo.

The Cool Toy of the Year

December 26th, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Ugh. Sick sick sick over here. Just me, though. I was quite convinced I had strep - but got the negative results Christmas morning. The throat swelling/fever has gone down considerably today, but I seem to be entering stage 2. Into runny nose/congestion mode. I will throw away my toothbrush when all is said and done. A coworker has been sick for AGES. I asked her if it was strep perchance, Thursday. She said no, but her daughter had gotten it twice. Ugh. I actually threw out my toothbrush last night since the fever seemed to be gone and I was feeling a bit better. I had an extra kid toothbrush laying around. Now I think I will just buy a new one when I am 100%. Just to be safe! Last night I put on a fresh pillowcase and clean clothes, etc. Just trying to disinfect as I feel better.

Downside - feel like hell at night (fever) - my throat was swollen like crazy. BUT mostly feel okay during the day - my appetite is okay. I probably pushed it too much the first day - work was so crazy. Christmas Eve I really only worked 2 hours because I slept in, decided I had strep (after googling it at work - I had the white patches and all the same symptoms) and then went to the doctor and when home to rest.

Next week at work will be CRAZY though - that is for sure. But the weekend is long enough it hasn't stressed me out too much. I Can probably work a bit tomorrow to lessen the load. & still sleep most the day?


I have just been living eating breathing sick all week. Not much else to talk about!

We stayed in yesterday and disinvited our parents. Probably for the best. MIL had stressed me out SO MUCH this week - I do really blame her. & know I just need to keep my distance. Um, I don't even know if dh told her he called the doc or what. I don't really care. (He will likely get a February surgery date - to be confirmed next week).

Dh took the kids to visit both our folks today. I think it's for the best. I know my folks don't need my germs (my mom is uber sensitive to any germs) and I just can't deal with MIL. I am just avoiding her like the plague. Today I get peace and quiet. I already took quite a nap.

Um, dh and BM are indoor rock climbing today. The experience is free since his friend works there. It was his one pre-op wish! Though post-op he wants to do something special too. We are thinking maybe a road trip this summer - none of us here except dh has seen the Grand Canyon. Just, something like that. We are easy to please. Big Grin


The kids got quite a few toys yesterday. Dh had a lot of books and video games - mostly from Scholastic.

Twister ended up being a HUGE hit at our house. (For BM anyway - LM wouldn't even try). Dh had picked that one up on a whim a while ago.

Anyway, but the big hit was the Hex Bug. Dh saw it on one of his tech shows, and thought the kids would love them. He got 2 for $7, at Toys R Us. Hands down, the biggest hit of Christmas. Figured I'd share, because they are so cool. I had told him maybe we should get more - I didn't realize the full price was closer to $10. We should have stocked up when they were cheap! Wink

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& yes - they do creep me out a bit. But the kids really enjoy them!

As for me, the kids got me a teapot. The surprise was ruined because I was planning to go get one at Kohls - I had a 50% off coupon, pretty much. The one I have is just, sad, and I have been meaning to replace. So, I voiced this idea outload to dh at some point, lord knows why, and he made clear I shouldn't buy one. The funny thing is I tend to be a little stubborn and "slow" sometimes when it comes to these things. But the second he kind of freaked out about it - I realized. He actually got me a nice Kitchen Aid one. I hope it holds up a little better! It was funny - the kids got us both kitchen gadgets.

& yeah - we all got a bajillion gifts from the in-laws last weekend.

(While I was sick I did run to Kohls and pick up a sweater and some earrings, with my coupon!) You don't know how many times I drove by and the line was out the door. I was about to give up, but about 4pm Wednesday was the charm. (Though I probably should have been in bed - and I was kind of surprised how much they still had in stock - thought they'd be cleaned out - maybe they will have quite the sale after Christmas).


Dang, it's COLD here!!! I felt like the heat has been running non-stop today (kind of odd) but figured I am not used to so much quiet. Anyway, I can see my sidebar says 48 degrees. Holy cow! We had some frigid nights this week as well. I am so over winter already. It hasn't even arrived yet I suppose. But it's been uber cold. Obviously, from the weather reports, not just more cold than usual, here. Everywhere, eh?


We have tons of food here - intended for Christmas. We figure we will try a redo next weekend. At least invite my folks up (not sure if we will invite anyone else!)

I have no idea what I have missed around here. I hope everyone has been having a nice Holiday!

Holiday Update

December 19th, 2009 at 09:48 pm

**I looked in Quicken today, and it looks like the Christmas damage is $500-ish.

It's hard to say since December is the month of birthday, and I just lump all that in too. Though I haven't bought a food processor for dh yet - his birthday is towards the end of January - and probably won't be lumped with "Christmas."

Another thing on the "maybe list" is a new digital camera. The price and quality is amazing these days, but we did spend a lot for our camera in 2002 (when I first became pregnant with child). As long as it still works, I suppose we have been sluggish to pull the trigger. But the $100 price point does it for me. Something we will have to discuss. (We've been discussing it forever, but I suppose I should have dh scour the ads carefully the next few weeks - see what we can score. Tell him that I think it's time...).

Anyway, as to Christmas spending, items of note:

**$130 on the in-laws. They always give us cash, and they are WAY into materialistic Christmas, so they are really the only ones we splurge on. We actually went halves with SIL for a Blu Ray player and various gift certificates. We do a calendar with pics of the grandkids every year, too. Which I do have to hand it to them - that is always the hit of Christmas. Not that it is ALL marterialistic...

*$50 gift cards to teachers. For them, I figured they are always buying things for the classroom, and I know a lot of teachers who get so much crap, they really appreciate something useful like that. I figure it's up to them if they use it for the classroom or to buy themselves a treat. I know they will appreciate it either way.

Hmmmm, what the heck did we spend another $300 on? I'll have to look in Quicken later - drawing a blank. I suppose $50 for my boss's gift, as well as $20-ish for the gift exchange. That adds up fast. I suppose we spent $200 on ourselves, kids, my parents, plus my birthday and my folks' birthdays.

Dh bought some video game for the kids and has a pile of free Scholastic stuff (books mostly, but also video games and toys, etc., etc). We bought a Twister game as well. More last minute, LM bought BM a Bop It, and we bought LM an Etch a Sketch because he absolutely fell in love with one at the museum. While shopping I spotted a generic "Jenga" game for $5-ish. I have to remember to pick that up. We still have to replace the inappropriate "Truth & Dare" one. Though that will be discreetly replaced - no fanfare there.

We kind of entered December thinking the Scholastic bounty would be enough. Probably, but the kids wanted to buy each other gifts, and on and on. Since MIL is such a gift hog (as mentioned before) we feel it is all probably way too much. Since they will get a zillion gifts from Grandma. Oh well!

Dh and I Also divvy up my modest bonus every Christmas, to contribute to our favorite charities. (Usually we both pick very different ones). This year, we both agreed that our charity of choice for 2009 was BM's public charter school. We have already advanced the funds. (Of course, schools can always use financial help, but as a Charter they are the only ones in the school district retaining small class sizes and extra-curricular activities, for this school year and probably many more to come. To be able to do this requires extra financial support though. Moreso this year than ever, with so many parents out of work, etc.).

We usually donate FAR more time than cash to charity. So, that about does it for the year. Though, with BM's first year in school, I feel like I will have a larger charitable tax deduction than usual (lots of little outflows to the school, throughout the year).


**This Sunday we will have our materialistic in-law Christmas celebration. At SIL's home. So yeah - tomorrow the kids will be spoiled rotten!

On Christmas Day we will have our low-key "At home" celebration.


**I suppose not much more to report.

Work will be crazy busy the next 2 weeks. I will be able to collapse on New YEars Eve (late in the day anyway). I will also be able to enjoy Christmas Day, but that's about it.

Today dh took my vehicle in for an oil change, and ran some errands for me, since I had to work. Typical dh, but I very much appreciate it! There are many intangible benefits to having a non-working spouse.

Dh has his big appointment on Monday with a specialist in the Bay Area. I am so crossing my fingers that we all like him, since he is covered by our insurer. & I hope this means we can get a surgery date and start making plans. (Though MIL doesn't matter so much, things will be a million times easier if she supports our decision!!!!!! So yes - hope she likes him too). I think dh and I are pretty set, unless we get a bad gut feeling about the guy, or something along those lines. He's the best we can afford! Well, the best and CLOSEST to home - which is also important if at all feasible.

Some days I just have no idea how I am going to do everything I do + everything dh does, while he is recovering. But I suppose, one thing at a time!

Some Interesting Articles...

December 18th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

I suppose I haven't been very posty. While everyone is winding down for the Holidays (granted, I do understand most people are more wound up and crazy busy). But work-wise, seems everyone is winding down. Whereas, for me, everything is winding up. Not that the week of December 15th usually amounts to much, but it's been so CRAZY this week, and after about 6 weeks of "vacation" (it's been so slow and I've barely been in the office) it's been a little overwhelming.

I am also not thrilled about all the weekend plans that dh has made for us. Exhausted just thinking about it. Though I may also have a chance to catch up with an old friend.

I will probably work a bit the next 2 weekends. Tomorrow is completely by choice, so I can take Monday off for dh's appointment in San Francisco. BUT, the week has been so hectic I suppose I would be working anyway. (As of Monday I wondered if I would have enough to do. Seems laughable now - basically, have got NOTHING done all week since my phone has been ringing off the hook. Tomorrow sounds refreshingly quiet and productive, in comparison).

I have some pretty exciting plans next Saturday, but may have to work a few hours Sunday or something. (What exciting plans? I am meeting a fellow SA-er in person!)


Anyway, I didn't have a ton to share today - not a lot of time to spare. BUT, had some interesting articles come through my e-mail today:

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Foreclosure backlog estimated at 1.7 million homes

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A credit card with a 79.9% rate? It's for real

The second article is kind of crazy. But hey, why would 79.9% interest rates be illegal? Right??? Good thing we have so much credit reform (insert eye roll).

I find the first article uber interesting. I am kind of amazed that our home value has remained as high as it has. However, I have also read a little bit about the large extent of "phantom inventory." Particularly in the area I live - but all across the US of course. Banks are just holding onto foreclosures to reduce supply and hold prices higher. It's obviously going on in my city - it's been named a top forelcosure city - and yet there is a frenzy of bidding for prices higher than we paid in 2001 even. It doesn't make a ton of sense. On some level, I expected the frenzy to happen on the lower end, since SO MANY people were priced out of the market for such an extended period. But on the flip side, the frenzy doesn't make a ton of sense. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they were so smart to wait - and bought for a premium over what we paid. (Plus they were stuck with absurd rents in the interim). Yes - you are so smart.... Nah - the smart ones will wait for the foreclosure tsunami and will be buying houses for less than this. (I suppose what it comes down to me is that prices don't strike me as particularly rock bottom. & this is probably precisely why they are not rock bottom. The banks control the supply...)

Anyway, my friends who have foreclosed - it has taken the banks over a year to even list their houses for sale. Whereas early on, some of our neighbors moved out, and their houses were sold within the month. Purposely or not, their is some huge backlog going on there. (In comparison, not much has sold in our neighborhood this year. Not anything for sale! Lord knows how many people have walked away from their homes - sitting empty in our neighborhood. Nothing obvious - but they have got to be there).

Cars and Credit

December 17th, 2009 at 04:33 pm

Ugh, yesterday was extremely painful. But, for the best I suppose.

Took my vehicle into the dealership for a LONG put off repair. Very unlike us. But the same engine error code has kept coming on for a while (2.5 years?) on and off. When it got stuck on, our beloved/trusted mechanic could not figure it out - so sent us to the dealership.


The dealership we bought the car from is semi-decent, and dh did call them at some point, and they said it would be 2 months to order a new computer if we needed one. (It's the only thing our mechanic could figure).

Then my dad had a heart attack and we put it on hold. Then I smashed the door and spent $2k repairing it. We decided to wait a bit - if it was just the computer. Whatever. MEchanic said the engine was totally fine. We were starting to think about getting this thing taken care of (certainly by 12/31) and then we got sidetracked with this whole brain tumor thing.

SO, we took it in yesterday, and it is all fixed. Hooray!

The painful part is the owner of the dealership committed suicide, and the place is shutting down. (Tragic, huh? You could suppose it has something to do with the economy). I hate dealershiups, but that one was probably one of the only ones we can stomach. Why we bought a vehicle from them! So we trudged to the big dealership at the big auto mall 25 miles away. Their customer service was absolutely terrible. *sigh*

Dh did not tell them that it was about 6 months ago that our mechanic looked at it. I hope that is all it is, but they just replaced the part the computer said needed replacing, and seemed very confused. They said they didn't think our mechanic had tried to fix it. The part was clearly not working, etc.

Insert eye roll here. Like I believe a flipping word they say.

I was not pleased with this fact, BUT the engine light has stayed off for about 35 miles (a new record) and I am hoping that just enough time passed that it all worked itself out. Like, maybe there was nothing obviously wrong before, but now there is.

My window has stopped working again, so dh inquired, and they offered to replace the motor for $500. Never mind. (The other dealership "fixed" it for $100, our mechanic lubed it up for free a couple of times, and even the body repair shop fixed it without us mentioning it). Though it may be true that this would be a permanent fix, I don't particularly want to spend $500 to find out. I found a free fix on the internet that I keep forgetting to try (just reset the fuse. Which I think is what the body shop did, maybe not even knowingly).

I am $500 poorer, but the original quote was 4 figures, and I've never really had a car payment. No complaints here - turned out better than expected!

Since the part was not working, I hope we didn't do further damage to the vehicle. We usually take our cars in immediately for any repair - just feel so jinxed with this year.


The most awesome thing is that I don't have to reduce my net worth for this expense. My mom gave me $1100 for the MRI (which may never be billed at the rate our HMO bills) and I have about $700 set aside for it already. SO, her check will probably pay for the MRI and rest of medical bills for year (one more doctor visit at least) AND the car. What a load off that it wasn't a more expensive fix).

I am pleased as punch about that!


In other news, a pile of credit card amendments arrived in our mail this week.

Nothing to note - mostly removing fees as per new legislation.

I didn't pay attention to the interest rates since hell would freeze over before I would pay those interest rates.

I did have to share though because the topic of conversation came up with friends, and they were kind of annoyed by my attitude about it. I suppose they thought I was poking a jab at them. Hey, they can do what they want. What do I Care? You want to pay 30%+ interest? BE my guest.

It's just funny how people who don't question absurd debt, react to people like me. They think I am just cocky and have never suffered a hardship. I Couldn't possibly understand.

Um, no. Let me put it this way. If I was hard up for money. (Say - if I lost my job. Which is not a terribly far fetched sceanrio). Say I lost my job and ran through our cash. Would I be charging things on my credit cards? Um, no. What these people don't understand is that I Would sell my cars, house, and kidney, before I would start paying 15%+ interest rates on borrowed money.

So yeah - I stand by what I Say. I didn't look at the interest rates because I don't care. Big Grin

Thoughts for a Monday...

December 15th, 2009 at 02:33 am

A few things bouncing around my mind - I suppose a lot in to reaction of forums posts of late, etc.


Out of curiosity, I checked the name brand of our mattress. IT is "Origins." If you look it up, it looks like a pretty mid-range price brand, but my mattress is heavenly.

I was curious because there was talk in another blog about mattresses lasting 10 years. Interestingly, mine is 10 years old, and comfortable as ever. It hardly seems near the end of its life. Then again, our rule of thumb is generally to keep things twice as long as they should be (or to use 1/2 the recommended amount, etc., etc.). Not that the "twice" rule would work on a mattress, but I wasn't going to throw out my most treasures possession because it was 10 years old.

Anyway, it looks like most/all the "Origins" mattresses, today, are warranted for 20 years. I am not surprised! (& am somewhat relieved to expect another 10 years from our mattress).

In my search for the tag - I told dh we should probably give it a flip. I am quite sure we haven't rotated it since we last moved 8 years ago. The mattress did feel a little more firm last night (less cushy and comfortable) but I slept well and had no aches and pains, so I presume I should just grin and bear it. (Usually I just melt into it, and sleep like a baby). Dh said he thought the bed looked higher, after the flip. No doubt it has less sag on the other side!

I don't know how we ended up with this mattress. We were kind of going cheap, BUT anything under $1k-ish was a little too crappy for our taste (it is a Cali King), so we just went with one in the $1k-ish range - a mattress that was on deep discount. I am glad to see it should last 20 years, because I don't think I could sleep without it. I would buy the same brand again - for next time.



I think my car strategy has taken a bit of a detour. Our strategy is to always pay cash for our cars. We both paid $10k-ish for our last cars, so we figured we could afford $20k-ish for the next round. (Our first cars were in the $1k range, etc.)

I am not sure this plan will come to fruition.

One problem is we have greatly reduced our income, and taken a big financial detour, since having kids. I am trying to build up some savings for things like our next car purchases, but I seen to end every year somewhere around $0.

Part of the problem is we assumed buying more expensive cars would mean less repairs, and that they would last longer. The interesting thing is that dh's car was actually more in the $8k range, but it was pretty new. The car is by far the best car we have ever bought - lowest maintenance, etc. So, we should be well on our way, right??? Thing is, my vehicle sucks. I have meditated on it, since we have talked much about chucking it and making an even trade for something else. The thing is that there really isn't anything mechanically wrong with the car, and it's not horrible. I am just not used to really having much in repairs, and since it is so "modern" it has a lot more stuff in it that can go wrong. Whereas, our old clunkers of yore were just very basic and never had much to them. (The computer is what regularly has problems, in the van).

Anyway, the van has cost us a lot of money we should be saving for our next car. But, more to the point, saving $20k per car one income isn't exactly cutting it, while saving $10k per car on two incomes was easy peasy. I suppose if we could put off our next car purchases until dh is working again, then it's all kind of moot. But I have the feeling we will be going for one more round of modest cars, when all is said and done. We no doubt chose more time with our kids, and slower lifestyles, over more expensive cars. Nothing I will complain about.

Dh's vehicle is a 2001 Ford with about 110k miles. My biggest fear right now is if it is totaled. It is not insured for replacement value, because it is "worthless" (worth less than the deductible, in the end). I suppose the premature demise of the car would be an "emergency" and we could buy something similar to replace it (similar as when we bought it in 2002 - a $10k-ish vehicle). Though if it lasts a few more years (which I have no doubt it will, otherwise) replacing it with a newer/more upscale vehicle may be possible. Dh really wants a Prius. I don't care, if we have the cash. I just refuse to finance a car when there are perfectly good alternatives we could pay cash for. (I know he would be happy with a $10k-ish car if something happened to the car, say tomorrow. We both agree that we have to be doing pretty darn well to sink money into a Prius. Though my first car was a Toyota, and I sing it's highest praises for lasting so long, the truth is dh's car will easily last as long though it only cost a fraction, new. With time I am less impressed with "brand name").

I also thought it was likely that dh would end up with a Yaris as a compromise (he likes small cars) BUT I have seen a few in our neighborhood lately - and they are smaller than I care for. Dh's current vehicle may be "small," but it has a lot more buffer on the front, and back (where the kids sit). It actually has a fairly decent trunk, and we don't mind it for long drives. I don't think Yaris can boast the same - it's uber tiny! But I suppose there are plenty of more roomy subcompacts to be had in the $10k range.

Kind of where we are on the car thing. I wouldn't be surprised if we trade the van in (even trade) for something else older and more reliable, in the end. For now, it is behaving itself. It's actually been pretty good this year - but for me smashing it into a pole!



I suppose it is time I get into the 21st century.

It started with dh getting a few texts here and there, with craigslist sales and such. We figured, a cost of doing business... (Verizon charges 20 cents a text). Then some of my friends would text me once in a blue moon...

But, it's escalating. I now have 3 friends who regularly text me. I decided that I should see what our options were. BEcause, though I haven't seen the point before, it's not necessarily worth alienating my few treasured friends, in the name of not paying for texting.

I am pleased with the answer. If we all wanted to text on our family plan, it could get pricey. But if it's really just me, I can get 250 texts per month, for $5/month. I think I can handle that.

For now, if I stay under 25 texts per month, I stay under the $5. That 20 cents per text is steep, but a small price to pay, I suppose.

I sent 2 texts in the last month - my first 2. I guess I am getting with the times!

To tell the truth, the texts have all come in handy. I Was trying to meet a friend and my voice mail was full, so she texted me to tell me so. I have texted her on other occasions where calling wasn't as useful. Today I Was meeting a friend for lunch, chatting on the phone with someone else, and she texted me to tell me she was running a bit late. It was nice that I didn't have to hang up my phone call and check my voice mail, etc. I can see the usefulness in it.

Though until I get a keyboard on my phone, I don't see a LOT of texting in my future.


I talked to my mom today and she is sending me the check. Though I still won't get too excited until I receive it?

We also received $110 in the mail today, from a grand relative. I had forgotten they usually send us money - color us spoiled.

I feel like a weight has been lifted from over-spending this weekend. I got a "get out of jail free" card. Big Grin Which means - I will learn nothing? Hehe.


In other news, dh has arranged a rock climbing date with BM (his one pre-op wish). His friend works at one of those places - so it is free. No complaints here. The funny thing is BM thinks he is a monkey, so he will probably LOVE it. Literally, he has to TOUCH and CLIMB everything he sees. Luckily, with age, he shows a little more caution and fear. He used to scare the hell out of me when he was little.. I think indoor rock climbing will be an excellent outlet for him.


I almost forgot that I have awesome news!!! MIL talked with a couple of people who have used our referred surgeon, and guess what, they had good things to say! (Doh!) So she is getting more optimistic.

Won't it be ironic if she likes the surgeon, and we don't? Stranger things have happened.

But seriously? What are we? Chopped liver? Are we idiots? I've told her the same - in one ear and out the other. I had the feeling she just didn't care - not like it's rocket science to track down this doc's reviews and patients, etc. So I am relieved she is considering some vein of logic in all this.

The 100 Thing Challenge

December 13th, 2009 at 02:31 am

I just caught on to this, per Coupon Addict:

Text is and Link is

Very interesting - to narrow one's belongings down to 100 things.

I am not particularly interested in narrowing down my belongings (I have been going through stuff for at least 5 years, and have given away a lot of stuff. Though I still have some things I need to get to...). BUT, I am just kind of curious how many things I do have. So, I will probably work on a list, out of curiosity. To see what I have and if there are things I will reconsider parting with. I think from there, I will come up with a figure - though I think it will end up more than 100!

I think this challenge is tough as a married person. There is a lot of stuff I own that is shared. Should I consider that stuff as "half?" Does furniture not count? Things to ponder...

I think this could be an interesting project for 2010.

Spend Spend Spend

December 12th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Well, it's been spendy, but the cosmic powers that be have allowed it I suppose.

Last night we had an impromptu $150 night out. Don't ask me why - very unlike us. The babysitting fundraiser was $40 for the kids. I Wasn't feeling 100% and was ready to just stay in when dh was going on about what he wanted to do. I suggested we do something different - like go out for fondue or something. I actually had a coupon in my coupon book, so we decided to give it a whirl. I figured it was uber expensive but maybe we could keep the costs down. In the end, we spent $100, coupon and all. Plus $10 to park downtown. IT was pouring rain and freezing - who knew so many people would be out - yeesh. (Actually, we were lucky to get a table with no reservations - the place was rather small).

Anyway, I felt terrible about this since we have seemed to hemhorrage money the last couple of months, with this and that. On the other hand, sometimes it is nice just to say "Screw it," and do something we would never do otherwise.

Now we can say we have been there, done that. Worth $100 to ever do again? Nah. Part of the reason we tried it is my dad took me out to a wonderful fondue lunch - I think it was when the fam was in Florida. That place was about as expensive - but was better. (Though my mom and I both felt the cost was insane and doubted we would ever go back). The place last night had more variety and we certainly had a feast though. We also had our chocolate flambeed, last night. (Fancy!)


So yeah, that's that.

Today was a little better. I Ran to Kohls in the a.m., with the kids, because I really just wanted a nice sweater for my wardrobe. I try to buy like one sweater and one dress every year. (I buy more than that - but those are like the basics). Nothing really fit and I didn't do so good (which was annoying - they are flipping sweaters - but they all just fit so odd. I usually don't even try on tops really). The kids were being obnoxious so I could have probably left spending $0, but I saw the most beautiful jacket I had ever seen, and it was on sale for $30 (something like 80% off - it was an expensive coat). All they had was Large, so I Almost passed it up, but tried that one on in the end and it fit perfect.

I suppose I will consider donating another coat, since that one wasn't really needed. But I will feel like a million bucks in such a fancy jacket (hope it washes well).

BM fell victim to the size trolls today too. My kids grow tall and lean. I am always grateful that even the cheapest of pants these days tend to have elastic bands on the inside. I always make those as tight as I can, and the kids generally wear belts too.

SO, since he had some freak growth spurt, and mostly skipped size 6, I went to grab some size 7s today. Not sure I'd have him try them on, but just that I Can't believe he skipped a size. (His 6s looked like flood pants!) So he did, and he couldn't button the slim pants. What the heck??? It's like bizarro world in the size department - not just me! Big Grin

I can't believe I bought my boy regular pants! 'Tis nice, since I am not sure the larger sizes have all that elastic (I just don't know).

They only had one pair in his size though (un-slim - Was on sale, phew) so we may run to target this weekend too - to get a few more pants.


We ran by Walgreens to get some umbrellas. We don't generally need or use them, but I told the kids we could go for a walk in the rain today. I think the umbrella I had broke. I suppose I will have to go on an umbrella hunt.

We stopped by Walgreens to get some Umbrellas and some junk food. We asked and couldn't find them umbrellas, so figured they were out. I checked out all the junk, and on the way out we spotted the umbrellas, of course. 2 for $10, so we grabbed 2 and went back to pay for those. The cashier told me to use the $5 I had just earned, and didn't know I had. So in the end, 2 umbrellas for $5, wasn't half bad. Big Grin Talk about customer service. My mom is always telling me how much trouble CVS gives her about those. WE go to walgreens all the time (the only store we can walk to), and not sure I ever got a $5 coupon.

Anyway, the kids excitedly claimed their umbrellas. Maybe I should go buy one more, for myself. (BM does walk to/fro school to, so will probably be handy for him. It just really never rains enough to warrant an umbrella from the car to the door, etc.).


I slept in and missed aerobics this morning - gah! So unlike me! I decided to go to they gym, and took the kids. We paid for lifetime childcare though, so was nice to get some use out of it. The kids had whined and complained about it for a while, and they were always watching TV, etc. They can do that at home with daddy! But today, they had fun and didn't watch TV anyway. Worked out.


Oh yes, so today my mom calls me and tells me she is sending me a $1000 check for dh's MRI. This is extremely unusual (my parents are tightwads!) and a very nice and unexpected treat.

Any worries I had in the back of my mind about being a little too spendy last night, immediately went away. Sometimes these things just work out!

Of course, my mom called me later and sounded like she was changing her mind. She called to ask me about details on our health plan. I have told her a million times we have a higher deductible because we save about as much on premiums going that route. Sensing her mind change I threw in that our deductible was doubling next year. (It's not like it matters that much this year - but next year will be ugly!).

Anyway, regardless of if I end up with this check or not, I suppose I should have a talk with my parents about this. It's not polite to tell someone you are going to give them $1k, and then change your mind. It's downright annoying!!!! She was going to send me $1k for the ambulance bill (the one I never got) and then changed her mind. I suppose I didn't fret too much about it since I never got the bill. But that was long forgotten, until I could sense she was going to change her mind a lot faster this time. (Last time she changed her mind after weeks or days. This time it was an hour I guess).

It's just how my parents are. THey want to help out if we *need* help. *Need* is relative. If they don't want to help us that is fine. I will have to remember this next time - no excitement until the check is in my hand. My bubble was filled and deflated rather quickly! I suppose if she asked me if I Really needed it, I Would say, no, not for 2009, but it could be really useful for 2010. Big Grin Which is kind of how our conversation went. & even then, I don't know. My parents don't generally hand me cash, and if they are going to start to, it's something they need to work on. Like, be sure before they open their mouths! Because, though I am fine with no handouts, I don't like getting excited about a gift that gets taken away! (If I had to guess what happened - my mom blurted it out, and my dad did not agree. My dad is the tightwad, I should say. Big Grin )

So, will see...


Anyway, I have a walk in the rain to prepare for. Brrrrr. I must be crazy, but the kids need to go run outside. (I don't mind rain - just not a fan of cold! Though our extreme cold weather has left. Phew!).


I really don't have any spending on my horizon, but all mys pending yesterday and today was so impromptu. So I don't know. But overall - not much planned here the next few weeks. Think we will hole up inside and try to stay warm, the rest of the weekend.

We've mostly been busy volunteering - I think we will log 9 hours for Scholastic/school activities this weekend. Dh already worked at least 7 hours at the TV station this week. I suppose we should do what we can while able bodied. Just, when it rains, it pours. Our schedule has been a bit hectic.

Net Worth Update

December 11th, 2009 at 03:07 pm

I had some time, and so decided to look at my net worth.

With the real estate market, decided it would be UGLY.

In the end, not so bad. No improvement over last year, but didn't expect any...

(I suppose I am at the whim of the market, the rest of the year - but wanted to see where we were at).

Cash was mediocre. I did save far more than I expected to this year (with the demise of our beloved preschool). BUT, also had a lot of unexpected, and luxury expenses, this year.

I don't expect to make much progress in 2010. I just want to save more than I Spend! (Medical bills and house maintenance will be big in 2010).

The investments are the only silver lining here. My retirement is up about 20-25%. I put away $13k during 2009. Grandma gave the kids $1/each, per usual. Next year I will be happy to put away $8k. Taking a step back while the market is rebounding. IF it dips low I will be tempted to invest more, on the other hand.

I still have $7k cash (emergency) in our ROTHs. The returns get invested into the retirement portion of our ROTHs. (What returns, right? I did have some though).

On the autos, I adjusted my car down a lot, to $5k. I just haven't been depreciating it fast enough. Dh's car is valued about $2k right now, for net worth, and I Depreciate it $500/year. I'll probably just do $1k/year for mine, going forward.

House - I have been using assessed value since the bubble was so volatile. The way property is assessed in Cali is up 2% per year, max. BUT, adjusts downward for real losses. While inflated gains aren't helpful to my balance sheet, the true value as it goes down, is good to know. This is why I like just going with the assessed value. I think the assessment we got is low, BUT won't be surprised if our house drops a lot in the coming year(s). So I will just go with it. I will wipe my brow with a "phew" this year that the assessment is what we paid for the house, and that the market is performing even better. Can't say what 2010 will bring. (I'd guess, more losses!)

We did refi January 1 and roll the costs into our loan (Have never done that before, but felt it was worth it for the rock bottom interest, and to keep our liquidity). Though we added a fair amount to our loan, our repayment clip has resumed where we left off - just about $4k per year to principal. I can live with that.

Interestingly, we have been homeowners 10 years, our home is worth about what we paid, and our loan is about where we started (maybe $1500 higher). Thing is we now own twice the house, and land. Doesn't tell the whole story at face value - since moving bought us twice the home, and more, for the same price as where we started. There is really nothing complain to about considering the real estate mess. Putting 25% down on our current home, has paid off. (As did buying before all this mess. It's paid off because rents are insane here).


For reference, I've got prior years cumulated:

Though the last 2 years haven't been pretty, we don't have much to complain about. Careful saving in our youth has given us a tremendous leg up.

2010 will probably be our last one-income year. I look forward to being able to bring in, and save, more income. Maybe make some forward progress... (Not that I expect that dh will work full-time, or even part-time. But he can raise enough to fund his ROTH, etc., with the kids in school all day).

ETA: Auto loan $1 was a typo - oops!